Plant operators play a big role in Big Data deployment

Emerson expert says operations needs to be in from the start of data management effort


In the rush to deliver on the promise of "Big Data" in manufacturing, manufacturers need to be aware of the need to keep operators in mind as well. "Throwing more data at them isn't the solution. You have to help them make the right decision," said Grant Wilson, VP of research and development for Emerson Process Management at a recent Emerson event in Austin, TX. 

In bridging the gap between bridging quality and control in data management, Wilson cited three key was to make it work


  1. Get operators involved from the start. "Have to give the operators the data for them to take action on it," Wilson said.
  2. The effective use of embedded technologies
  3. Make use of data capture in the historian to understand not just what happened and why it happened, but understand what are the best-case scenarios as well.

Wilson cited five benefits to such a process:

  • Better process insights
  • Improved production performance
  • Enhanced operator effectiveness
  • Supports continuous improvement programs
  • Fostering process and business operation integration

"We have all this data, and we have more coming from every day from the control system," Wilson said. "We need some way of mining it and then look for information that is actionable." 

That means moving from a state of what he called descriptive analysis—what happened, and why—to a state of prescriptive analysis--finding the best answer and the best outcome for the operation.

The savings show up in improved productivity, but also in lower maintenance costs. "You want to know the how and why of every maintenance dollar," Wilson said. "You don't manage maintenance and reliability; you control it."

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